If cultures are like fermented foods, what does Canada taste like?
Two Asian democracies, dialogues over conflicts and connections
TAIWANfest returns to downtown Vancouver this Labour Day weekend to resume the Dialogue with Asia series with a new chapter between South Korea and Taiwan. After almost two years of global halt, humanity seems to have regressed, and uncertainties have settled in our lives as norms. Many thought it was a time for reflection or new perspectives, so what have we learned from our relationship with nature or people around us? During the 1980s, Taiwan and South Korea were emerging as new democracies from dictatorship. With their similar shared past in confucian philosophy and Japanese colonization, the two cultures have evolved distinctly and are contributing to the ever-changing Asian mosaic. However in the making of cultures, like all fermented foods, every ingredient in the urn has a say in determining who we are today. With Canada continuing to evolve as a diverse nation, the festival aims to provide many perspectives for Canadians to revisit their understanding of Asia through two of the most iconic Asian cultures and their similarities and differences.
For many Asian cultures, Confucianism is one of the most important philosophies that have become the foundation of societal values and norms. Widely known as a Chinese philosopher born in 551 BC, Confucius has impacted China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Taiwan in more ways than one. Confucianism to some has brought stability to society for generations, and to others, has inhibited the progression of humanity. With globalization and the migration of people, Confucianism has contributed to some confusion when compared with the ideology of the West, especially for families with Asian heritage living in the West. “Confucius or Confused(ion)” will be the thread woven through all programming in this dialogue between Taiwan and South Korea.
Economically, South Korea and Taiwan are considered two of the great forces in Asia, but each has taken on a different path and plays a different role globally. Like mirrors, both often reflect and learn from each other in many areas: the friend or foe relationship often exhibited in exchanges between the people. In the 1990s, an influx of South Korean-born Chinese moved to Taiwan to pursue post-secondary education and never returned to Korea. In the 20th century, k-pop and the Korean wave have dominated the lives of Taiwanese youth very much like the rest of the world. In a series of talks and
performance programs, artists, scholars, activists and community leaders who have lived through these phenomenons will offer their unique perspectives to fulfill our curiosities.
Taiwanese artist Chin-Wen Cheng was commissioned to create his newest work, “Cultures Fermented,” a gigantic 5-meter-tall inflatable urn that has vivid depictions of events and traditions that helped shape Taiwanese and Korean cultures today. If you like learning about histories and cultures visually, this is a must-see presentation. The artwork will be part of the visual arts display during the festival at šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square (the Vancouver Art Gallery North Plaza).
2021 Vancouver TAIWANfest will offer a great lineup of virtual programming, including performances from “The Tune,” an all-female group and Korean new music sensation, as well as many iconic Taiwanese artists presenting their popular music in performance/talk programs. Additionally, a variety of physical programming includes the “New World” opening concert in partnership with the season opener of the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra at the Orpheum Theatre on September 4th. A new comedy program of “Rethink Asia: Dialogue through comedy” featuring Taiwanese Canadian comedian Ed Hill takes place on September 5th at the Annex. On September 4th, the festival will debut a new documentary, “May Sea Turtles be with You… Always” by renowned Taiwanese director/filmmaker Chin-Yuan Ke, exploring how cultures and nature are tied together in partnership with the Vancouver International Film Festival, Vancouver Taiwanese Film Festival, and Museum of Vancouver. Lastly, the festival will offer a closing concert at the Annex by Harmonia String Ensemble with a special tribute to Vancouver and Kaohsiung, two harbour cities at two ends of the Pacific Ocean.
For a complete list of programs, please visit www.VancouverTaiwanfest.ca.